A suspected member of a Daesh-linked group accused of involvement in the kidnapping of European tourists has been shot dead during arrest, according to the Philippines military.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said in a statement that Ustab Anji had reportedly grabbing a firearm from security forces following arrest in the troubled southern island province of Tawi Tawi:
“The scuffle prompted the latter [escort] to fire at Anji which resulted in his instantaneous death. Recovered from Anji were a Cal.45 pistol and a grenade.”
According to authorities, the Abu Sayyaf member — who had a bounty of 350,000 pesos ($7,250) on his head — was involved in the kidnapping of 21 people, mostly European tourists, in April 2000 from a dive resort in Sipadan in Malaysia. He was also tagged in recent abductions of Indonesian and Malaysian nationals from the region’s neighboring seas.
Navy Col. Custodio Parcon, Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi commander, said security forces were on alert against an attempted entry by Abu Sayyaf members into the island province following a months long campaign to cleanse the group from the south.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines. The group is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.
It is one of two militant groups in the south to have pledged allegiance to Daesh, prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.